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Fringing wetlands of the Laurentian Great Lakes are subject to natural processes, such as water-level fluctuation and wave-induced erosion, and to human alterations. In order to evaluate the quality of these wetlands over space and time, biological communities are often examined. Ideally, the groups of organisms selected for these evaluations should be resident in the wetlands themselves. Fish are often sampled, but many species are not truly resident, visiting wetlands on an occasional basis to feed or on a seasonal basis to breed. Aquatic vascular plants are perhaps the most common group selected for evaluation. However, in some cases, aquatic plants give a false impression by providing photosynthetic capabilities and structural infrastructure but having greatly diminished herbivore and carnivore communities.


The authors acknowledge the financial assistance of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, MidContinental Ecology Division through interagency agreement 14480009931945 granted to Douglas A. Wilcox. The U.S. Geological Survey - Biological Resources Division also provided funds for the development of an index of biotic integrity for Laurentian Great Lakes wetlands. The analyses reported herein are a portion of that effort. This publication is Contribution 1047 of the U.S.G.S. Great Lakes Science Center.